Man riding a horse
Spook Sunburst & Bernard Fonck. Photo by Andrea Bonaga.

Belgian Reiners Headline Historic Italian Reining Horse Association Futurity

An amazing night of competition in front of a full house closed the €647,000 (Euro)-added Italian Reining Horse Association (IRHA) National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity.

The event not only made history by offering the highest-added money in Europe, it also attracted the largest number of horses ever taking part in a European reining event — more than 700. Yet another NRHA milestone was crossed in Cremona: NRHA Professional Bernard Fonck unofficially became the first European-based rider to cross the NRHA Two Million Dollar mark and Cira Baeck became Europe’s first female reiner to cross the NRHA One Million Dollar mark — and the only woman open rider to join the elite club from the Old Continent.

Level 4 Open

The two professionals from Belgium also took top honors in the €265,000 (Euro)-added Level 4 Open Championship: Fonck claimed the Championship and Baeck the Co-Reserve title.

Fonck rode Spook Sunburst, a gelding by multiple past NRHA Open and Non Pro World Champion Great Sun Burst out of All About Spook (by Smart Spook). The duo performed to perfection; their incredible spins thrilled the crowd, as did the rest of the pattern and the fans in the stands cheered him on from the first to last maneuver. Once they closed their run, a 227.5 appeared on the scoreboard.

“This week I didn’t feel that my horse was responding the way I wanted him to, but then he started getting better and tonight he was great,” Fonck about the horse owned by Koen Symoens and bred by Manuel Bonzano. “He is by Great Sun Burst, and reminds me a lot of his sire who I always believed would pass on his great talent. Winning the IRHA Open Futurity title this year was on my wish-list, along with claiming the individual gold at the World Equestrian Games [with What a Wave] and I have to thank my wife for being my partner in life and in business.”

What wasn’t in the plans for 2018 was surpassing the NRHA Two Million Dollar mark, though it has always been one of Fonck’s goals.

“This evening has been amazing and I have to compliment the Italian Reining Horse Association for putting together this prestigious event,” he said.

Fonck was also the recipient of the beautiful Champion’s Ring, sponsored by MS Diamonds TX, as well as a saddle sponsored by IRHA/Serafino Repetti amongst other awards. Renowned non-professional and Italian breeder Manuel Bonzano won the IRHBA (Italian Reining Horse Breeding Association) Best Stallion award.

The Level 4 Co-Reserve honors went to a pair of riders who marked a 226: Cira Baeck and NF Shining Whiz(Colonels Shining Gun x Whowhizthispeppychic x Who Whiz It) and Guglielmo Fontana on Oak Smoking Face (Pale Face Dunnit x Genuine Benito Pap x Genuine Redskin).

NF Shining Whiz is a mare owned by David Perneel/Kim Windy and bred by David Perneel. Oak Smoking Face is  a stallion owned by Giulia Amolaro and bred by Daniel Moro.

Level 3 Open

It took a 224 and a team all about Poland to win the €75,000 (Euro)-added Level 3 Open Championship: Lukas Czechowick — head trainer for Roleski Ranch, and his mount CSG Copyshot (Colonels Shining Gun x Finest Copyshot x I Am Shotgunner), owned and bred by Katarzyna Roleska, gave it all they had and laid down an amazing and powerful run.

“I truly gave it all I had and risked it all tonight!” said Czechowick. “Winning with a horse that is by a Roleski-owned stallion, the great ‘Jo Jo,’ [Colonels Shining Gun] who was born at Roleski Ranch and who I broke and trained is the best thing that could ever happen. This horse is an amazing athlete with a great mind but if I had to define his best quality, it’s his heart!”

A daughter of Colonels Shining Gun, Angelina Shining Gun, won the 2018 IRHA 4-Year-Old Futurity Levels 4 & 3 Open championships. Roleska also took home the IRHBA incentive program Best Breeders Award trophy.

Taking Level 3 Open Reserve honors with a 223 was Italian Manuel Cortesi aboard PC Tinsel Whiz. The stallion by Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Sire Hollywoodstinseltown andd out of PC Sliderina Whiz (by Topsail Whiz), was bred and owned by the Cortesi family’s facility, Az. Agr. Piero Cortesi.

Levels 2 & 1 Open

It was a great night for Slovenia’s Gal Grahelj, who conquered both the €20,000 (Euro)-added Level 2 Open and €10,000 (Euro)-added Level 1 Open championships by marking a 222.5 aboard Walla Whiz A Dun It.

The stallion by Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Sire Walla Walla Whiz out of The Bun Is Dun (by Hollywood Dun It) is owned by Katja Zrimsek. Bred by Susan Jones, the horse is a graduate of the Markel Insurance sales held in conjunction with the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City.

“When we purchased this horse at the Markel Insurance Marketplace Sale in Oklahoma City and brought him back home, we knew he would be a good one yet, he surprised us all by turning out to be an incredible horse under every aspect,” said Grahelj who qualified his horse in four levels in the finals. “I broke and trained him myself and he’s always been very easy and extremely talented. Showing here at the Italian Futurity was in the plans and he was great for me from the qualifiers until tonight. I showed for the first time at the 2013 NRHA Euro Futurity so, taking home two titles in Europe’s most prestigious event is a dream come true.”

The Reserve Championship in the Level 2 Open went to Tomas Martinek and Call Me Lil Josie (Lil Joe Cash x Call Me N Hollywood x Hollywood Dun It). Martinek and the Wolfgang Hammer-owned mare marked a 219.

Tying for Reserve honors in the Level 1 Open Futurity with a 215 score were Lena-Marie Maas and her ER Custom Bleach (Custom Cash Advance x Snappy Bleach x Snapper Cal Bar) and Michael Saupe and Smart N Surprising (Smart Spook x Just Miss Enterprise x Surprise Enterprise).

ER Custom Bleach was bred by Elisabetta Raviola. Daniela Saupe owns Smart N Surprising, a stallion bred by Nuith Linthorst.

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